Saturday, May 26, 2007

Day 10 - Capital of the Roof of the World

Lhasa has been Tibet's Capital since the 7th century. Today we visited some of its oldest and most splendid sites. Our first hour this morning was spent visiting with the Director of a Tibetan hospital, who gave us an introduction to Tibetan medicine. I will post a separate entry on this later. From here we spent the rest of the morning at the Potala Palace, the empty seat of the Dalai Lama that sits atop the highest hill in Lhasa. It is thirteen stories high and has over 1000 rooms. We climbed the many, many stairs to the top, very, very slowly. I cannot even begin to explain how incredibly beautiful the inside of the Palace is. Pictures were not allowed, so I can only tell you that the visit was quite moving, though unnerving to see so many Chinese soldiers posted throughout. Here are some pictures of the trip up and then back down.

Here's a picture of our group, minus one, in the plaza across from the Palace.
After lunch we spent the rest of the afternoon at Sera Monastery. Founded in 1419, it still trains about 900 monks today. Every day between 3 and 5 pm the monks gather in the courtyard for debate. They clap their hands, gesture wildly and argue. They appeared to be having a great deal of fun debating the meanings of the scriptures. They were quite animated and fascinating to watch.

That's all for now. We had a fantastic day and saw some amazing sites. Tomorrow we drive three hours southwest, in the direction of Everest, to visit a holy lake. It is located in the mountains at an elevation just over 16,000 feet. It should be beautiful. See you tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. These photos are amazing--you can tell how clean and unpolluted Lhasa is compared to Beijing. I love virtually travelling with you, thanks for the kind thoughts!